By Ranica (Ranica@aol.com)
Summary: A WAFFy pre-relationship story that has Lois and Clark covering the annual 4th of July celebration at Metropolis Park — Perry's orders.
Spirit of Independence Day (which by the way, is a really cool holiday: when else can you set things on fire and not get yelled at for it?) and LCWS, better late than never, right?
"Perry?" Lois stuck her head inside his office. "I'm finished with this story about the celebrations going on tonight." She plopped the piece on his desk and turned to leave.
"Wait, Lois." Perry picked up her story and glanced at it. "Now I'm sure that this is good stuff, but call me crazy. How could you have already written a story on something that hasn't even happened yet?" He looked at her questioningly.
Lois took a step back into his office. "Every year it's the same thing: people sit in the park, listen to some third-rate band play the national anthem over and over again, and then they watch the fireworks while parents scramble to keep all their kids form running off. It's happened every single year that I've gone, and trust me. It's not gonna change." She crossed her arms in defiance.
Perry pushed the paper towards her. "I just think that this story would be even better if you actually attended the festivities." He looked into the newsroom. "Where's Clark?"
Lois rolled her eyes. "Who knows? He's probably out there collecting seashells or something." She glanced down at the story Perry was rejecting. "You want me to write this again?" she asked incredulously. "It's not even a big story! It'll be buried somewhere on page 10 of the Features section!"
"Every story is a big story," chided Perry. "Now, I want you to attend the celebration, THEN write the story." He saw a figure bounding into the newsroom just then. "And take Clark with you."
"What?! You want your two top reporters covering some celebration just because it's the Fourth of July?" Her eyes flashed. "Send Jimmy. I'm sure that even he could handle it. And if he can't, you can always use my copy." She waved the piece of paper in the air.
"You and Clark. Metropolis Park. Tonight," he said firmly, and then went back to the stack of papers on his desk.
"But —" Lois sputtered.
"End of discussion, Lois," he said, not even looking up from his desk.
"Ugh," groaned Lois, storming from his office, knowing that she had lost the battle. She didn't notice Perry's smile as she slammed the door shut behind her.
"Hey, Lois!" Clark was in a good mood. He had just saved a little girl from falling off the monkey bars. It was just a great feeling.
"Did you find any pink seashells for me, Clark?" asked Lois sarcastically.
"Oh, never mind."
"So what are you doing tonight, Lois?"
She looked up at him gravely. "You and I are attending the Metropolis Independence Day Celebration. Perry's orders."
His eyebrows rose. "Perry's orders?"
She nodded. "Why? Do you have other plans?" She looked at him, alarmed. "Clark, you are NOT gonna stick me in the middle of the park by myself, are you?"
He thought for a moment. Smallville was an hour behind Metropolis. He could attend the Smallville festival after he went with Lois to the Metropolis celebration. "Nope! No plans."
"Good," she said with relief.
Clark knocked on Lois' apartment door at 6:30 that night. He heard some scuffling from within and then the door flew open.
"Hi, Clark." Lois was in a slightly better mood than she was earlier at the Planet.
Clark looked at her shorts, sandals and tank top. "Uh, Lois. Won't you get cold, wearing that?"
"Don't worry. I've been to dozens of these things. I'll be fine." She pointed towards her blanket that was lying near the couch and the backpack where she had packed her sweatshirt. Clark was still doubtful.
"I still think that you should change," he admonished.
Lois just rolled her eyes and shut the door behind him. "What about you?" She surveyed his attire that consisted of shorts and a T-shirt. All he was carrying was a large picnic basket. "Won't you get cold?"
"I don't get cold," he said honestly.
"Yeah, sure. What'd you bring?: Because I've already made some food." She went into the kitchen to retrieve it, and came back out with a Tupperware filled with potato salad.
"I'm glad I brought more food then," he said under his breath, but she heard him.
"Hey! I make GOOD potato salad," she said defensively. "Just ask Lucy."
"Okay, I believe you," Clark chuckled. "Are you ready to go?"
"Yeah, just let me go grab another blanket for you." She handed him her potato salad and retreated into her bedroom.
"No, really. It's okay," he said, but she still came out with a fluffy red plaid blanket.
"Better safe than sorry, Kent."
He had already gathered up all their stuff and just nodded. It was no use trying to convince her that there was no way he'd ever get cold. "Let's go then."
"Do you need any help with that?"
"No, I'm fine."
"Okay," said Lois, grabbing her car keys. "Let's get this over with." ***
When they arrived at Metropolis Park, it was already pretty crowded.
"We can sit over there," pointed out Clark, to a spot next to two families.
"No, I'd rather sit over there," Lois said, meaning a more secluded area a bit further away.
"Why, Lois? Because it's more private?" He nudged her with his elbow mischievously.
"No, Clark. Because it's further away from those kids." They both watched as a blond little boy chased a red-haired little girl in pig-tails with a water gun.
"I think they're cute," he observed. "And harmless," he added.
"Cute — yes. Harmless — no." She walked over to the more secluded area with the blankets and Clark followed her.
"I thought that you'd gotten over your fear of kids," teased Clark as he set down her backpack and the picnic basket.
"I was never afraid of kids," she said while laying out one of the blankets so they could sit. "It's just that —" She glanced over at the two screaming and giggling children. "Do they have to be so — active?"
Clark smiled. "They're kids, Lois."
"I KNOW they're kids Clark. They're — Can we just eat?" She dove into the basket and pulled out her potato salad and a couple of wrapped sandwiches that Clark had made. "Can you hand me a drink?" she asked, pointing to the cooler he was still holding in his hand.
"Sure," he said, sitting down next to her on the blanket. He opened the cooler and started to take out one of the fruit juices that Lois had packed, but saw that she had forgotten the ice. He touched the bottle, and sure enough, it was warm. Trying to divert Lois' attention, he pointed out the kids again. "Just look at them, Lois." The little boy had cornered the girl with the water gun. He didn't want Lois to realize her mistake when she took a sip of a warm drink, so while she was watching the kids, he directed his super breath into the cooler to cool down the drinks. When he handed her a freshly cooled drink, he saw her smiling at the children who had somehow called a truce and were now hugging.
"Well, I guess kids aren't so bad after all," she said while accepting her bottled drink.
They ate in silence for a bit and watched the happy families around them. A father and daughter threw a Frisbee around while a boy and his dog ran along flying a kite.
"So, what're we gonna do until the fireworks?" Clark looked over at Lois who was staring up into the sky.
"I don't know," she said, leaning against the tree near them. He followed her gaze upwards into the clear summer sky. "Don't you ever just wonder what's out there, Clark? I mean, there are so many possibilities."
"I know," he answered, thinking of his abandoned planet. "I wish I really knew what was out there."
She looked at him closely. "Maybe Superman can tell us both what's out there someday."
He returned her gaze solemnly. "I'm sure that there are things out there that even Superman couldn't tell us about."
"I guess," she said, returning to the sky. "But at least he's able to explore out there. I really envy him sometimes."
Clark's eyes stopped on her face. He reached over to brush away a stray piece of hair from her eyes. "Me, too," he said quietly, and moved over to sit closer to her. She didn't stop him.
They sat there, watching the sunset. As the sky grew darker, the wind picked up and Lois started to shiver even after she had pulled her sweatshirt on.
"Are you cold?" asked Clark, reaching over from the second blanket and wrapping it around her shoulders.
Lois nodded sheepishly and accepted the blanket gratefully.
"Go ahead, say it," she challenged.
"Say 'I told you so'," she waited expectantly.
"Why?" he asked, feigning a shudder. "You were right too. I'm starting to get cold."
She smiled and offered him a corner of the blanket which he took. He wrapped it around both of them, making sure that she was warm first before lightly draping it over himself. She settled into his shoulder as they both leaned against the sturdy oak tree just as the fireworks began.
Halfway through the spectacular display of colorful explosions, Lois reached out to hold Clark's hand, which surprised him, but only for a moment. He smiled as he gave her hand a slight squeeze.
"I wonder where he is tonight," Lois finally said. "I mean, I know he's probably out patrolling the city to keep all the possible fires under control, but it must be hard. Being Superman. He has no one special to be with. Ever. He's all alone." She trailed off as the grand finale of the fireworks began and the explosions became louder and bigger.
Clark's grip on Lois' hand had lessened at her first mention of his alter ego, but she now grasped his hand more surely than before. "We're really lucky, Clark."
He looked down at her and really smiled. Their heads bent closer together and their lips met.
A few hundred feet away, Perry couldn't help looking over at his favorite reporters. He kissed his wife, Alice on the cheek and chuckled. "And who says that every Fourth of July is the same?"
C'mon! I KNOW that you want to say SOMETHING about this piece, like it's too cheesy, or it's just really bad, Ranica! Well, I just want to hear from you! Input is always good. Thanks! :)